Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stanley Cup Final - Game 6: Sweet Emotion

Describing the feeling of watching the team you love win the Stanley Cup is a difficult thing. Part of the problem is thinking you know what it will feel like, then being thrust into the moment and realizing nothing could have prepared you for the reality. It's a sudden rush of blood to the head, a brain freeze and a study of shock and awe all rolled into one.

You don't just feel one feeling, you feel many. The feelings come in waves that alternately lift you up then knock you to your knees. Just when you think you're able to come up for air, a fresh memory happens and another wave of feelings hit and you're breathless all over again.

  • My mouth dropped in awe as the final horn sounded and silver and black streamers floated down from the Staples Center ceiling at the end of the game that decided it all.
  • I beamed with pride watching Dustin Brown lift The Cup for the first time.
  • I started to tear up watching Willie Mitchell finally realize his long held and hard fought dream.
  • I gasped in shock as Simon Gagne almost fell and took The Cup with him.
  • I grinned from ear to ear watching 22 year old Drew Doughty scream "WOOOOOO!" as he carried Stanley around the ice, hoping this was only the first time on the way to many more.
  • I chuckled watching Colin Fraser do a creative backwards hand off to Brad Richardson.
  • I winced with a tinge of regret seeing Scott Parse and wondering what might have been in a season devoid of hip surgeries.
  • And when the players families joined them on the ice, seeing their shared embraces, full of pride and love, the floodgates opened and I cried in earnest.
By the time I got home I was numb, exhausted, emotionally spent -- and happier than I've ever been in my life as a hockey fan. And I knew I would cherish those moments and all those sweet emotions for the rest of my life.

Because it's The Cup.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals - Game 5: Cuts Both Ways

Being a walking bundle of contradictions goes hand in hand with being a Kings fan.

You believe in your team but acknowledge that history is NOT your friend where success is involved.
You want them to win but almost expect them to lose.
You worship your goal tender -- except when tries to stick handle.
You want goals but get goal posts instead.

And if you're like me, you want this miraculous Cup run to end as soon as possible WITH A WIN, but you also want see it in person. Because you've waited, wanted and wished for so long.

The Kings loss in Game 5 is potentially our gain in Game 6, my friends. And win or lose, it's also THE LAST TIME you will see your team on Staples Center ice this season. It has the potential to be the most epic moment you've experienced as a Kings fan -- or one of the most bitter disappointments. So much to gain, yet so much to lose.

At times like this it is easy to have your faith shaken. But even if you're a still a jumble of opposing feelings, you still have to believe in this team. Because belief is NOT never having doubts. Belief is acknowledging the doubt and pushing forward in spite of it. I BELIEVE. Do you?


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals Game 4: Be-Deviled

I've spent the past two days thinking and thinking, replaying every critical moment in my mind and trying to figure out the X-factor behind the Kings Game 4 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
  • Was it because I got a defective glow stick?
  • Was it because I was not in my normal warm up photo spot?
  • Was it because I didn't see my friend George before the game? He swears that every time we say hello before a game the Kings win, but I was running late that day and missed him.
  • Was it because Kelly Hrudey was in the building?
  • Was it because all the press box guys were running out of phone battery?
  • Was it because Dennis Bernstein had to be wrong JUST ONCE?
  • Or maybe it's because the Hockey Gods know we're patient. They know we're willing to wait as long as it takes because the reward will be worth it.

And then I thought about Mike Richards. You see, I normally don't watch the players during the National Anthem, because the flag hanging from the rafters is behind me and I have to turn around to see it. But this night, I happened to glance at the Jumbotron and see him on the bench, eyes closed, head buried in his gloves as they perched on the end of his stick.

I could actually feel how much he wanted to win, how much he was praying for the strength to seize that moment. He's been through a Cup final before, and he knows it's a marathon, not a sprint.

And then I understood why the Kings lost. Because this isn't supposed to be easy. It's supposed to take blood, sweat and tears, with small pieces of your heart and soul thrown in for good measure. Because nothing this important is earned without sacrifice.

Because it's The Cup.


Capturing History In The Faces Of Los Angeles Kings Fans

Chaz Curry is a lot of things. Professional photographer. Surf enthusiast. Hockey player. Die hard Kings fan.

Perhaps most importantly, Chaz Curry understands the power of a moment. The Kings and their fans are part of a unique moment in history right now that we've all waited for, dreamed about and prayed would happen. Chaz Curry wants to honor that moment by commemorating it forever -- captured in the beauty of black and white.

Chaz Curry wants YOU to be a part of that moment too.

Hopefully you've seen this image somewhere on Facebook, Twitter or a blog already. If you haven't, I'm happy to bring it to you. It's your chance to be a part of Kings history -- OUR HISTORY.

If you're still not sure why you should do this, here is a more detailed description of the project posted by Chaz on his Facebook page:

I'm interested in putting together a simple and straightforward movie consisting of nothing but stellar black & white portraits of Los Angeles Kings fans.

Without giving away too many details, Kings fan would show up at a photo studio somewhere in LA or Long Beach on a Saturday or Sunday and we'd shoot thousands of portraits of Kings fans against a black backdrop, preferably wearing Kings gear.

The reason why I want to do this is becaus
e we as Kings fans have waited a really, really long time for this moment, and while I don't want to jinx anything, I'd love to show this off right after the fact.

Moreover, this is something that is near and dear to my heart to be able do for Tanner and his family (Steven M. Raboin, Scott Raboin, Tim Raboin). For me, being a photographer, I have long wanted to use my talents to give back to Kings fans in any way possible, and I strongly feel in my heart that someone somewhere is telling me to do this.

In return everyone will get a hi-res copy of your photo that you may print out, frame, post online, whatever your heart desires).

To be honest, I haven't seen any sort of fanbase in ANY sport come together and do something of this nature. Have you?

So I ask this, Kings fans - Would you be willing to donate a half hour of your time on a Saturday or Sunday for this Tannerhead Nation project and our beloved team or do we sit back and casually just root for them like every other sports fan does?

For me, this will be a ton of hard work during the long shoot and a ton of hours spent in post production, but when I'm old and gray dying in my bed I'll be able to tell my grandchildren about this moment and say that I made a difference. A moment no one can take away from us wherever we go in life.

This is what being a Kings fan means to me, and what it meant to Tanner Raboin.
Did that give you chills? A tear in your eye? Me too. I'll be there Sunday. If you want to join in, RSVP to the Facebook event HERE.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals: Game 3 - Mad Genius

I was in a great mood yesterday morning, which was an amazing feat considering I was up at 5 AM trying to get to work early. Such is life in playoff mode. I had a lot to get done at work but I was making progress. Then, it happened.

A tweet from a friend asking whether Simon Gagne would be skating tonight? HUH?

After quickly consulting the mighty Rich Hammond and discovering Gagne would indeed be replacing Brad Richardson in the line-up, my thoughts went into a complete tailspin.

WTF are we doing messing with line chemistry NOW? Why can't the power play units just keep doing what they're doing -- they have to score eventually, right? Is this just about Gagne getting his name on the damned Cup? Is Richie hurt? SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!

The rest of the afternoon was a blur of work, stress, rushing home and rushing to Staples Center to make sure I had plenty of time to navigate the madness. On my walk downtown, a slew of frustrated thoughts were running through my head (not necessarily in this order):

  • I HATE 5 PM starts. Can I help that I live in a geographically superior time zone? I have to struggle to rearrange my day just so the East Coasters get their beauty sleep?
  • WTH is Gags doing in the lineup? REALLY. Is this mad genius or pure stupidity on Sutter's part? THE GUY HASN'T PLAYED SINCE DECEMBER!
  • I really should have taken the day off...
  • That freaking margarita machine better be working!

By the time the game was over, I only had one thought....


Nothing else really matters.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals: Game 2 - Two Guys, A Girl And A Nail Biter

Finally free of hotel rooms in the Dirty South and safely back in Los Angeles, I was excited about the opportunity to enjoy Game 2 surrounded by my fellow Kings fans. I just had no idea there were so many of you!

That was the line to get IN to ESPN Zone...
Of course, half these people clearly aren't REAL fans because they don't even have jerseys, or even anything Kings themed in their wardrobe. I appreciate people wanting to join the playoff party, but I just feel like there should be some sort of system to give preference to long time Kings fans at these Kings of events and let the obvious band wagoners in last. You gotta earn your way in people.

In spite of Jay Flats begging me to stay, there was no way IN HELL I was waiting in that line to fight for average food and lousy ESPN Zone service. Thankfully I read the information the Kings sent out on ALL the restaurants supporting the Kings playoff efforts, so I decamped to the JW Marriott. Much nice environs, better food and plenty of 50" TV's lined up to watch the game. MUCH BETTER.

Once my cocktail and I were comfortably ensconced at The Mixing Room at the JW Marriott, I met a couple of new watch party buddies -- and die hard Kings fans - named Tim and Alex.

THIS is Alex. THIS is what a REAL Kings fan looks like.

We had an awesome time discussing the game and Tim did a fantastic job stealing us all some "GO KINGS" coasters for use later. When Drew Doughty carried the puck end to end and scored to put the Kings on the board, we sat dumbfounded at his amazing talent.

I think the gum is the secret to a successful end rush.

Then after a tight back and forth game for three periods, we all screamed and stood in unison when Jeff Carter scored the game winning goal. And it's a good thing he did, because Tim and I were both about to throw up from anxiety in the last minutes of OT.  Until Jeff carter took control of that play, the Kings OT effort was not looking dominant. The Kings were playing mainly to keep the Devils from scoring, which isn't the way to win a game. It could have easily gone the other way, but the Hockey Gods saw fit to keep Tim and I breathing and give the Kings a HUGE win.

The Kings continue to defy expectations and make the journey to the Stanley Cup look like a walk in the park. Tim, Alex and I are all excited to be seeing them LIVE in Game 3 -- because we're all going. WE are Kings fans, people. We don't need no stinking bandwagon.

Some other fun stuff the boys and I discussed during the game, plus some other great stuff I saw at LA Live:

  • Tim and Alex were both talking about how bad they need hair cuts as soon as the playoffs are over. And they may throw in a professional shave as well. #PlayoffProblems
  • We all agreed the only goalies that should stick handle the puck are named Marty. Quickie is much better this season, but he still makes us nervous. The only possible exception to the "Marty Rule" is Ron Hextall because we're afraid of him.
  • We're all conflicted bout whether Stoll and Penner will be offered contracts when this is over. We all agree if one or both come back, they'll be taking a cut in pay. I still think Stoll is the more likely guy to get an offer.
  • What does Jonathan Quick have to do to get a goalie interference call? Two Devils sat on his head and flipped his helmet off. Mike Smith would have gone postal and beheaded someone with his stick if he took that much abuse.
  • All season long I watched Drew Doughty do those end to end rushes with no goal resulting. Apparently that was just practice for tonight.
  • Conn-Smythe watch: If he keeps playing like this, add Drew Doughty to the list of possible contenders. That said, Quick is still the odds on favorite after another sparkling effort in goal. (Jesus, as much as I complain about Doc Emrick's commentary, did I seriously just use the term "sparkling?")
  • It's nice to see the local TV stations finally care about the Kings. Let's hope someone got them the correct logo for their broadcast.

  • There is a pop-up merch stand in the middle of LA Live now, so there really wasn't an excuse for those band wagoners in the ESPN Zone line not to dress appropriately. Check out this beauty.

  • There is also a big trailer with a super size images of our boys plastered all over it. If super sized Drew doesn't make you smile, you don't know how to have fun.

  • Nice to see the police are guarding the building now that the Stanley Cup Finals banner is up.

  • The Sandley Cup sure looks pretty all lit up at night!

  • And finally, one of my favorite moments of the weekend was yesterday afternoon, when a good friend reminded me that Kovy's last name rhymes with "upchuck." That explains a lot.
Now my nerves are back in anticipation of Game 3. I hope the margarita machine at Camachos is working or it could be a REALLY rough night...


Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Stanley Cup Finals: When Life And Hockey Collide

At the beginning of the post season, I picked the Kings to lose in the first round and resigned myself to being happy with any playoff appearance given the rocky nature of the regular season. As the Kings kept winning, heading deeper and deeper into the playoffs, I realized I was totally unprepared for what a playoff run means in terms of impact on your every day life. And frankly, I was overwhelmed. Happy, but overwhelmed. And I still am.

I never knew you could use the tickets in the back of the book until this season....

My previous playoff experiences as a Kings fan have felt a lot like a vacation. You go away for a week or two of complete hockey immersion, then it's over and you return to "normal life." I've learned a legitimate Cup run is NOTHING like a vacation. It's a full time job. Constant news and blog posts to read. Videos of every player answering the same hackneyed questions to watch. Facebook and Twitter posts coming from people you rarely interact with who have suddenly taken a keen interest in your thoughts and feelings as a Kings fan. Some days the flow of information and commentary seems endless.

If I was independently wealthy, all this would actually be enjoyable. But like most of you, I have a full time job and the demands of that job don't care that this is the biggest moment of my life as a hockey fan. Occasionally something has to give, which in my case were my blog posts for the last two games.

Immediately after the Conference Championship, I was on a 6 AM flight to Huntsville, AL for work, followed by a couple of days back in Los Angeles then another early flight to Memphis, TN. Between the time changes and 10 hour days at work, I hardly knew which end was up. Because of the first trip, I didn't attend a watch party and the only experience I had seeing Dustin Brown pose next to the Campbell Cup was on video late the next day. The night of the win itself was difficult because my boyfriend is a Coyotes fan. Let's just say we didn't agree on ANY aspect of the Kings and Coyotes on-ice OR post game behavior, which made thinking about writing a post-game recap less than fun.

Then I watched Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals from my hotel room in Batesville, MS. I had such a long day at work I actually managed to fall asleep during part of the game. It probably had something to do with Doc Emrick boring me with his awful game commentary, including the play of Drew Droughty and the fact that the Kings were a "big" team. Plenty about how "skilled" the Devils were. The Kings just played "big." And don't even get me started on the Martin Brodeur love-fest put on by NBC. All I could think looking at his cheeseball grin was "YOU CHEATED ON YOUR WIFE, YOU JERK. WITH HER SISTER! DON'T SMILE AND PRETEND YOU'RE NOT A TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING. AND YOU CAN KISS MY ASS WITH YOUR SCORPION KICK."

OK, now I feel better.

But the struggles of the last two weeks have a huge silver lining -- no more work travel until after the playoffs are over. So no matter what happens from here on out, I'll be there to experience it all. I plan to enjoy every blissful moment.


Monday, May 21, 2012

WCF Game 4: What Went Wrong?

When the Kings came crashing back down to playoff Earth yesterday, I spent the walk home mulling over what had happened. Game 4 of the Western Conference final was probably the worst played game of the last eight, which proves just how high the bar has been raised for this team. They were far from terrible yesterday. They didn't seem to have quite as much jump in their step, passes just didn't connect as well -- everything was THERE but just a step off. In a playoff series with this much at stake and a desperate team as our opponent, that step, that second of hesitation is the difference between winning and losing.

But this post-season has been so magical for the Kings, such a sensible explanation for the 2-0 shut out loss just didn't seem to make sense in my frustrated brain. There HAD to be some crazy X-Factor, some rip in the space time continuum that ruined the Kings perfect plan for playoff domination. After rubbing the brain cells I had left together, I thought of a few reasons the Kings lost. They're all irrational reasons, but they all make me feel better than simply acknowledging the Coyotes played better.

  • It's Gary Bettman's fault. Isn't everything that's wrong in the NHL Bettman's fault?
  • One of these guys is to blame. I think we all know which one.
Hint: It's NOT the guy standing up.
  • Bikes. Way to many bikes.

  • I got kicked out of my regular warm up photography spot. Dustin Brown was confused and spent the rest of the game looking for me, worried I'd abandoned the team.
Um, who are you people and where is the regular crew?
  • Then again, Bailey is probably right. The Universe is to blame!

The good news is the Kings are still solidly in charge of this series and we've been here before -- in Round 1 against Vancouver. That turned out pretty well so I'm choosing to believe this will too. ON TO GAME 5!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

WCF Game 3: Everything Wrong Is Right Again

Things have been going well for the Kings lately, but as a Kings fan I have that deeply ingrained suspicion that terror is always lurking just around the corner. I am also superstitious, so when things go wrong with my well oiled game plan -- even little things -- I can panic pretty easily.

Game 3 had me worried because so many little things went wrong before the game.

  • I discovered I was out of eye black just as I was walking out of the house.
  • My warm-up watching buddies were running much later than usual.
  • One of my favorite ushers was missing from his normal spot.
  • I forgot to check in on Foursquare.
  • The 6 PM start meant that LOTS of people were running late and my seat buddies missed the opening puck drop.
  • And perhaps most worrisome of all, the Camachos frozen margarita machine was down and I couldn't have my lucky first period cocktail.

I found a Kings crew member as soon as I got to Staples and remedied the eye black situation. Then I spent some of my downtime before warm-ups chatting with Bernie Nicholls (yes, you read that right). But I still couldn't shake my vague feelings if impending doom.

As if determined to prove my theory correct about impending doom for the Kings, the Coyotes came out with a lot of speed and energy in the first period. The Kings weren't exactly chasing the game, but it was closer than it should have been. I went back to Camachos to see if the margarita machine was working and it STILL wasn't. Then they scored right at the beginning of the second period and real panic set in. THIS IS IT.

But if the Kings have proved one thing during the playoffs it's that panic isn't a word in this team's vocabulary. They calmly regrouped, tied the game and went on to take the lead on the way to a 2-1 win and a 3-0 lead in the Conference Final Series.

WHEW! Or is that phew?

Everything is going to be OK now.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WCF Game 2 - Shutouts, Hat Tricks And Records, Oh My!

Wow. Just WOW.

Right now, at this magical moment in time, there is NOTHING this Kings team can't do.

Jeff Carter scores a natural hat trick.
Jonathan Quick earns his second shut out in this series.
Dustin Brown survives all manner of ridiculous, suspension worthy attacks by half the Coyotes team.
The Kings set a new record for consecutive playoff road wins and take a 2-0 lead back to home for Game 3.

The Kings play is a thing of beauty right now, but there is another beauty in the Kings organization as well -- the Kings official Twitter feed! So rather than give you my standard game recap, I thought I'd share the game through the mad genius of the Kings Twitter feed, which had me HOWLING with laughter all night (see what I did there...HOWLING...Coyotes, they howl....well, you get the picture)!

I do have a few choice words for the Coyotes as they head to Staples Center for Game 3.



Monday, May 14, 2012

WCF Game 1 - "Beat LA"? We Don't Think So!

Of all the teams the Kings have faced so far in the playoffs, Phoenix made me the most nervous. For all the comparisons drawn about the similarities between the Kings and their second round opponent the St. Louis Blues, in truth the Coyotes and Kings are more alike, at least this playoff season. Let's review:
  • Game-stealing goalie? Check
  • Good balance of young offensively talented and veteran shut down defencemen? Check
  • Game changing Captain? Check
  • Physical and gritty style of play? Check
  • Underdog no one in the hockey world expected to be in this position? Check
  • Winner of the first game in each of their respective series en route to the Conference Final? Check

Well Phoenix, I guess someone had to be a loser for once.

This is what White Outs do to people. There should be drugs to cure this...

In spite of how even the match-up appeared "on paper," the game was pretty lopsided, dominated by the Kings and close in score only because of two mistakes. Yeah, Quick let in a weak goal. It's going to happen once in a while. But he's a competitor and doesn't let that stuff get in his head, which is good because the press wouldn't let him forget it in the post game Q&A. And Drew Doughty continued to show his increased maturity, acknowledging his error that led to the Coyotes second goal and giving credit where it was due to a quick Coyotes forecheck. Dustin Brown and Justin Williams took a couple of ill-timed penalties, but the PK got us through that as well.

Bottom line? The Kings are so completely in the zone right now that it will take more than some crashing and banging and a good goalie to knock them off their game. Not the that Coyotes won't try in Game 2. But they're going to have to find a way to get the puck and get some shots off in less than 7 minutes to have a chance.

They're going to need a lot more than "Beat LA" t-shirts and chants to survive The Men in Black!

On to Game 2!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Kings - Blues Game 4: Winning Is AMAZING!

Experiencing something for the very first time is a unique combination of exhilarating and nerve wracking. You don't know completely what to expect or what you'll be feeling when it happens. Even if you have an idea from talking to people who have been there before, you can never be completely prepared for how it feels for YOU.

In my tenure as a Kings fan, winning like this is a "first time" experience.

Walking to Staples Center at 10:30 AM, I didn't feel especially anxious, but I was hyper-aware of every detail of the day. The cloudless blue sky. The crowds of people dressed in Kings jerseys having breakfast at Denny's and The Pantry. The balloons and music outside the arena. The color of the girl's nails that scanned my ticket as I walked in to watch and hope history would be made.

After the initial roof raising during player intros, things settled down for me emotionally and I didn't feel all that different from a regular season game. Then I watched the Blues skate out to start the 3rd period and pairs of their players clustered together, talking as they skated in circles. I new they were giving each other that pep talk I've given the Kings so many times in my head. "We're down but we're not out. We can do this. It's not over!" In that same moment I realized the Kings were 20 minutes away from eliminating them -- putting them in OUR old position for the first time. And in that moment I also realized I had no idea what winning would feel like.

The best comparison I can make is to getting your first kiss. You hope it will happen but don't completely see it coming, and you're taken aback for a moment when it actually does. Is this really it? WOW! Then the shock and disbelief sets in. Wait, is this REALLY HAPPENING? OMG! OMG! Oh crap, am I even doing this right? And when the shock and disbelief wear off, all you're left with is that warm, fuzzy feeling, followed by the desire to do it all again. Soon. VERY SOON. Then you find your way home, lost in your thoughts and thinking about nothing else the rest of the day.

As the shock and awe were wearing off, I was watching the Jumbotron through my camera screen as I was shooting video. As I watched, I was mesmerized by Jonathan Quick's face. He was holding back a smile that was part shit-eating grin and part tearful thank you as he wiped the sweat from his face.

And Quickie being Quickie, he thought of others before himself and thanked the fans on Twitter. All those beautiful emotions crossing his face turned into simple, heartfelt words.

No Jonathan. THANK YOU.
Our Kings were knights in shining armor as they vanquished old demons to the sheer delight of their fans. The curse of the afternoon game? Gone. Can't create enough offense? Done. Too immature and undisciplined to win at this level? Nada. Can't get out of the first round of the playoffs? Toast.

It was especially sweet that the final goal was scored by our fearless Captain Dustin Brown and assisted by both members of his "official" leadership team -- assistant captains Anze Kopitar and Matt Greene. Together, they weathered storms of criticism to bring this team together and kept their faith in each other and their teammates along the entire journey. Their dedication -- and that of the Kings faithful -- is finally being rewarded.

The journey to the ultimate prize is still a long one, but right now, for the first time it feels truly within reach. We are headed into uncharted waters and like the team we love, we must stick together more tightly than ever until we reach our destination. We've savored the sweetness of that "first kiss" and we want as many more as we can get.

I may not have known exactly what to feel when the Kings put the semi-final round on ice, but I did know one thing for sure. I knew the right way to celebrate -- with a pancake dinner.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kings-Blues Game 3: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!

All season long Kings fans have been waiting for the Kings best players to be our best players. In Game 3, it happened in spades and is a perfect example of how everything is coming together at the right time for this team in the playoffs.

  • Drew Doughty - One goal, two assists, awesome defensive play and a #1 Star of the Night.
  • Anze Kopitar - One goal (his second of the playoffs) and two assists.
  • Mike Richards - Well, is there anything he didn't do in this game? One hugely important goal en route to a Gordie Howe Hat Trick and the #2 Star of the Night.

The big guns were the big guns, but make no mistake about it -- EVERYONE chipped in and did their part. I spent huge periods during the game just watching in awe. Every read worked, every player was positionally sound. It was possibly the best played game by the Kings since....since.....I just don't even know any more.

What I do know is this. This team is a contender. We're up 3-0 in the series. We're a huge monkey on the back of the St. Louis Blues.


Other thoughts from The Queen: 
  • Jonathan Quick is a rock star. The building vibrated when he was announced before the start of the game. I actually got chills. 
  • I think Dustin Brown was saving his body during the regular season and not hitting as much because NOW he's crushing very thing that moves. Smart. Very smart.
  • I think the recent comparisons between Dustin Penner and a bear are accurate. Seems he hibernates during the regular season and only wakes up during the playoffs. He is a beast, after all....
  • Brian Hayward--GET OFF OUR ICE! And take your Anaheim Duck fowl stench with you!
  • I hate THIS almost as much as I hate Brian Hawyard. Bandwagon fans drive me crazy and we're actually encouraging MORE of them? Forget the bus and talk to me when you've been a fan for a while. 
  • Nothing more significant has happened on this day in Kings history than the birth of a dude no one remembers. Although the Kings did work in a Modry playoff stat. I think we need to spend more time in the playoffs from here forward. 

  • Thanks to the people who showed up to take my warm up seats and ruined my pictures. And exactly WHERE have you been all season?
  • The game intro video set to My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade was GENIUS. It reminded me how much I love that song and how much I adore seeing pictures of our boys as little tiny hockey players. Even as a kid, Drew was adorable and Quickie had swagger.

  • No one with the Kings entertainment staff reads Surly and Scribe. Davis Gaines has been absent the entire playoffs -- and I'm OK with that. Sorry Jacob....

Now, we just need to do it ONE MORE TIME. You know what to say, Kings fans...


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Quarter Final Round: Predictions and Keys To The Series

The Kings continue their quest for The Stanley Cup tonight in St. Louis and after a first round filled with doubts, I'm 1000% on the Kings bandwagon moving forward. This is a winnable series for the Kings, although it won't be an easy road by any means. We got lucky to dispose of the Vancouver Canucks in 5 games, largely because they made some key mistakes in their game plan. The Blues won't make those same errors, so we've got to have our proverbial shit together on this one.

Here are my keys for a Kings win in this round:

1) Stick with the game plan
Part of the reason the Kings were successful against Vancouver was because they maintained their composure, had a lot of patience and didn't get frustrated. They will need that much patience and then some with the Blues, who play a defensive, grind-it-out style similar to the Kings. This series will be a war of attrition and it's going to take the full 7 games.

2) Steal a road win early
The Blues had one of the NHL's best home records during the regular season. Luckily the Kings have played well on the road through the season AND in the first round of the playoffs. Hitting the Blues at home will shake their confidence and it will give the Kings some momentum to bring back to the home crowd at Staples Center.

3) Scoring opportunities from all four lines
Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is big on match-ups, so if the Kings can find a way to get scoring chances coming from anywhere and everywhere, Hitch will keep guessing how to counter the offensive. It's time for our best players to be our best players and Kopitar, Carter, Richards and Williams all have an opportunity to step up and do more. I know it's a tall order given the Kings regular season history, we but we can't depend on Jarret Stoll to be clutch every series. And God knows I won't count on Penner to do it.

4) Rest when you can get it
This will be a LONG series and it's going to take a lot of energy. We have an Olympic caliber sleeper on this team named Jonathan Quick. Hopefully he'll be giving sleep clinics on off days.

 5) The X-Factor: Daryl Sutter
Plenty of pundits are saying Dustin Penner is the X-factor for this series, but for me there is no bigger reason for the Kings playoff success than the man behind the bench. I have never seen this team as prepared and focused as it's been with Sutter at the helm. He is proof positive that there is a HUGE difference between leading and managing. Leaders motivate. Managers are technicians that move pieces around the board. Terry Murray was a great manager. Daryl Sutter is a leader.

The Kings are prepared. They are focused. They are ready. They LIVE for this. Only one question remains -- are YOU ready, Kings fans?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Playoff Lessons Learned

When you venture into uncharted territory, you're bound to make mistakes. In my time as a Kings fan, we've never been here, so I had my doubts whether it would ever happen. Nothing in the regular season gave me a conclusive reason to believe it would. So I made a choice to try and be smart, hedge my bets and be "realistic" about our chances in the first round, thinking that being "right" about the outcome was what mattered in the end.

Turns out I was wrong -- in so many ways. And it's time to pay the piper and admit just how wrong I was.

Thirteen days ago I tried to use logic, recent history and a season's worth of in person observation at Staples Center to predict the Kings playoff future. In the real world, that's what we do as human beings. We look for facts, statistics, guideposts and mile markers -- anything we think will guide us to the right decision. What I forgot is that the playoffs have a magical third dimension where the normal rules of the world don't always work and the unexpected becomes routine. In the playoffs, role players rise up to becomes heroes, emotion reigns over logic and unshakable belief trumps pure skill.

The Kings believed and that belief was rewarded.

My mistake was not believing enough. Sitting at the watch party Sunday night, chewing my nails and holding my breath, I still doubted the Kings could do it. And when they proved me wrong, when that room erupted and I screamed and hugged people I knew and some I didn't, I learned the most important lesson of my life as a hockey fan -- it feels great to let go and just BELIEVE.

We all make mistakes, but our true measure as human beings is learning from them and not making the same mistake twice. Whether I'm right or wrong, I will never doubt this team again. Because win, lose or draw, it's far more rewarding to be a believer than a doubter.

They say the fourth win is the hardest to get. It's also the sweetest. Even when you predict the wrong outcome.

I learned a few other things during this playoff series as well.
  • Important moments in Kings history are dictated by numerology. Three seasons ago, the Kings went to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years led by a Norris Trophy candidate wearing the number 8. Two years later, the Kings advance to the second round for the first time in 11 years because of a goal scored by jersey 28. When the Kings last advanced beyond the first round in 2001, the series winning goal was scored by another 28 -- Adam Deadmarsh. (Do you have chills yet? I do.)
  • Straight up hard nosed hockey is a lot more fun to watch than a bunch of between the whistles gamesmanship. It also helps you win. I think the Vancouver Canucks know that now.
  • Winning at home is awesome, but stealing a series in the other team's barn almost feels better.
  • It was a pleasure watching Drew Doughty grow up in this series. He is still young, and he still has room to develop, but he's a gamer.  His set up for Brad Richardson's goal to tie the game was worth every bit of the money he made this season. It was a clutch moment and the Kings would not have won without it. And seeing him smile and skate away from a scrap was beautiful icing on the cake, even if it spawned temporary meme insanity on the web.
  • NOT trading Dustin Brown was the smartest move Dean Lombardi will ever make as a GM.

  • Quicker > Ginger
  • Barney's Beanery s'mores have magical powers. No sooner did they arrive at our table during the third period then Brad Richardson scored to tie the game.
  • Bob Miller and Jim Fox are CRITICAL to the kings success. The only game we lost in the first round is the one they DIDN'T call.
  • "S" words in hockey are cursed. Don't even think about saying the word "Sweep" to me, or writing it on a sign, or bringing a broom to the rink. Ever again.
  • Bailey in a speedo is...naked and furry.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Game 4 By The Numbers

Eye black for the perfect game face: $5

Official playoff t-shirt from Team LA store: $25.99
Lower bowl playoff ticket: $90.50

"Lucky dinner" combo of Wetzel's Butter & Salt pretzel and a frozen margarita: $15.25

Projected dive count from Ryan Kessler based on Games 1-3: 2.5

Projected number of celebrity sightings: 5
Number of times the guy sitting behind me will probably say "Aw, come on Doughty!" and I'll want to punch him: 25
Number of Kings fans who HONESTLY knew this would happen ALL ALONG: 0
Percentage of Kings fans waiting for "The other shoe to drop": 50%
Number of frayed nerve endings per Kings fan in attendance: All of them
Chance the Kings will finish this series in 4 games: I'm superstitious. Not even going there....